J2Ski New Zealand J2Ski logo
°F / in / ft / miles°C / cm / m / km

Cairngorm Mountain

Cairngorm Mountain Ski Resort Guide

Cairngorm Mountain, Scotland

Rated: 4/5 (from 6 ratings)

Ski Area Highlights
Recommended ForExpert Skiers, Intermediates, Beginners, Snowboarders, Snowfall and Apres-Ski!
Highest Lift1,245m
Resort Height537m
 Nearest AirportsInverness and Aberdeen
Free Snow Reports by e-Mail  Sign Up Here

Cairngorm Mountain

Scotland's best known ski area is ten miles East of the lively village of Aviemore. There have been dramatic improvements here in recent years and a vast array of non-ski activities are now available to counter the traditional problem - unpredictable weather.


The Scottish ski resort of Cairngorm Mountain is at an altitude of 537m.

Cairngorm Mountain has direct access to 23 marked pistes, served by a total of 12 ski lifts.

The skiing is at relatively low altitude, so snow cover can be variable.

Snow and Weather

When will it snow in Cairngorm Mountain?

The next notable snow forecast is 3cm, expected on 7 October.

See our long-range Snow Forecast for the latest update, or   Join our Snow Mail Here

Snow this week

Snow Forecast by day for Cairngorm Mountain

Ski Area Stats

Cairngorm Mountain Ski Area

Piste and Lift Stats
Black Pistes
Expert Trails
Red Pistes
Intermediate Runs
Blue Pistes
Easy Trails
Green Pistes
Beginner Runs
Cross Country
Total Length
Ski Lifts
Number of Lifts


Cairngorm Mountain Ski Area Heights

Lift Heights and Resort Altitude
Highest Lift1,245m
Lowest Piste537m
Resort Altitude (Cairngorm Mountain)537m
Max Vertical708m

Ratings & Suitability

Ratings for Cairngorm Mountain
Expert Skiers
Intermediate Skiers

Cairngorm Mountain Overview

Scotland's best known ski area is 10 miles (16km) east of the lively village of Aviemore. There have been dramatic improvements here in recent years and a vast array of non-ski activities are now available to counter the traditional problem - unpredictable weather.

The resort boomed in the 1960s when the 'Aviemore Centre' a complex of unattractive rectangular hotels and apartments was built, rapidly deteriorating in to an eyesore during the 1970s and 80s and bringing the image of the rest of Aviemore down with it. Subsequent face lifts and new leisure and accommodation options which have developed around the resort and over the past three years or so has sidelined the Aviemore Centre and Aviemore today is very much a 'reborn' resort. The old Centre is now called Aviemore Highland Resort (AHR)

The long planned new funicular railway which opened in 2001 provides a more modern, comfortable and reliable method of transportation than the former Car Park and White Lady Chairlifts. The funicular is almost two kilometres(1.2 miles) long and climbs to a height of 1097m (3600ft) taking approximately six minutes to reach the top (slowed down in summer to allow visitors time to take in the scenery). Replacing the Ptarmigan Café is a modern, panoramic restaurant, visitor exhibition and shop. With the completion of the funicular fewer skier days will be lost due to poor weather.

Cairngorm's first chairlift was installed in 1961 and since then the facilities have increased so that there are now 13 of the 17 original lifts and tows providing an uplift capacity of some 8042 skiers per hour enjoying 40km of ski runs which extend into 2 adjoining corries, Coire Cas and Coire na Ciste. Some of the original uplift is not used now due to the increased capacity of the Funicular Railway.

The old gaelic name for the Cairngorm Mountains is Monadh Ruadh meaning red mountains - you can see why on a fine summer evening in Aviemore as the setting sun seems to cast a red glow over the pink granite rock of the Cairngorms. After Ben Nevis, the Cairngorm Range of mountains have the highest peaks in the UK with Cairngorm itself being the 5th highest at 1245m (4084 ft.)

As well as being popular with skiers, climbers and walkers the Cairngorms have an impressive range of environmental and scientific credentials. The area is home to the UK's largest National Nature Reserve and Europe's largest privately owned bird reserve. Scotland's largest National Park, Cairngorms National Park, (Pairc Naiseanta A' Mhonaidh Ruaidh) was established here in September 2003. It is the home to a unique and special place, 17,000 people and 25% of Britain's threatened birds, animals and plants. It includes moorlands, forests, lochs and glens. It has also been proposed as a World Heritage Site for its outstanding geological and geomorphologic features. As such it is considered to be one of the UK's best examples of sub-arctic habitat and is home to some of the UK's rarest birds and plants, including snow bunting, dotterel, ptarmigan and the famous Ospreys which breed at nearby Loch Garten.

 Notable Ski Runs

The longest possible descent in Cairngorm Mountain is 3km long and the most difficult run is the 'Coire na Ciste Gully'.


Snow cover in the Cairngorms and affecting all Scottish ski areas is unpredictable. There can be good falls any time from October to June and equally there can be periods when the slopes are largely bare even at what would be the height of the season elsewhere in mid-winter. Strong winds can also be a problem, closing lifts sometimes, although the new funicular has dramatically reduced this problem at Cairngorm.

When conditions are good at Cairngorm there's nowhere better. Cairngorm has a good range of terrain. For total beginners there are easy green runs just up from the Main Car Park or further up beside the Ptarmigan Centre in the Ptarmigan Bowl, providing an easy beginner area accessed via the Funicular from the Base Station.

Almost half of the slopes (48%) are for beginners and intermediates. Coire Cas, straight up from the Main Car Park, has plenty of green and blue slopes for the intermediates and advancing novices. The M2 is a good long blue run starting from the Ptarmigan Centre at the top all the way down to the Car Parks. 47% of the slopes are red and more experienced skiers enjoy the challenge of the Ciste Gully. The most challenging run, the only black, is the West Wall at Coire na Ciste. The White Lady provides an extra challenge when its covered in moguls.

To help you find your way around there is a free guide service. The Hilton Cairngorm Ambassador Team provide friendly and informative escorted ski and board tours of Cairngorm with a daily tour at 11.30am from the information office in the Base Station at Coire Cas car park.

There are a variety of pistes to suit all levels of skier ability, from Beginner to Expert.


Cairngorm can offer snowsports instruction, provided by The Ski School and Zippyboarder School, both based at Level 3 of the Day L;odge. Visit their websites at www.theskischool.co.uk and www.learn2snowboard.co.uk for more information. Clothing hire is also available.

This ski area was the first to have a fully maintained snowboard fun park and have produced a ride guide integral to their piste map which keeps boarders informed on their beginner areas, freestyle jumps, freeride, carving and steeps. The terrain at Cairngorm is varied and natural features will form depending on the wind direction and snow.

Location and Map

Where is Cairngorm Mountain?

This ski resort is in Highland, Scotland, Scotland.


Tap Show Map in Full Screen for Full-Screen, or see J2Ski's Resort map, showing Hotels and Ski Shops.

How to get there

 By Air

The nearest airport to Cairngorm Mountain is Inverness, 76 minutes drive away.

Aberdeen and Edinburgh airports are all within three hours drive.


Ski Lift Capacity

The 12 ski lifts are able to uplift 8,000 skiers and snowboarders every hour.

Season Dates

When is Cairngorm Mountain open?

We don't currently have confirmed season dates, but hope to soon.

Usual opening is late November (Fully weather dependent - sometimes opens in November), and usual closing is Late April.

NOTE:- Ski area, lift and piste opening is subject to Current Snow Conditions.

COVID-19 / Coronavirus

We don't yet have specific details of the COVID-19 precautions being taken in Cairngorm Mountain, but they are likely to include most of the following :-

  • Face masks required on lifts, and in shops.
  • Social distancing in public areas.
  • Reduced lift capacity.
  • Extensive disinfection / sanitization.

French Ski Resort COVID-19 Measures describes further measures that may also be applied.

Visit the Cairngorm Mountain Tourist Office for the latest.

Talking about Cairngorm Mountain

Mentions in recent J2Ski News Items and Snow Reports from our users...

Aprés Ski

The main centre for nightlife is Aviemore which has a good choice of pubs and hotels and really seems to come alive when it has a covering of snow. The Vault, the local nightclub is the place to go if you want to party into the early hours, whilst many of the bars and hotels have live music. The Cairngorm Hotel, The Winking Owl, RD's, MacKenzie's and Mambo's are all popular with the tourists and locals alike. The other villages in the area, from Newtonmore in the south to Grantown and Carrbridge in the north, all have a good variety of bars and nightlife.

If you're looking for a cosy Highland pub with a good selection of fine malt whiskies, cask conditioned ales and a superb cellar of great wines then the Old Bridge Inn, by the River Spey is the place to be, especially on a Tuesday night when they have a Highland evening with lively local entertainment.

Cairngorm Mountain